No One To Wave Goodbye

Cultural opportunities include a wide range of events occurring throughout the year to encourage residents to participate. Each summer local artists set up their tents in the Driving Park to display their paintings and ceramic creations for sale. Weekly summer concerts in the park draw music lovers from far and wide. Annual house tours featuring the beautiful interiors of special homes draw crowds of curious people. The highly regarded Dundas Little Theatre produces several plays per year by talented amateur actors .Christmas is celebrated by the lighting of the town Christmas tree in the town centre, followed by a week of horse-drawn wagon rides through the downtown as well as volunteer carollers who roam through the streets to sing carols.

Special events designed to draw crowds are scheduled during the year. On Victoria Day a local service club arranges a spectacular fireworks display in the Driving Park that attracts hundreds of local residents and visitors. Each year there is an early evening parade through town to kick off the weekend Cactus Festival. The main street is closed to traffic so that crowds of people may stroll up and down to visit the dozens of vendors selling trinkets and fast food while novice bands crank out their ear-shattering sound that they call music. Earlier in the summer a similar event happens when the scores of acrobatic contortionists assemble for the Busker Festival. Neighbours nod and smile at each other as they mingle with the strolling masses. Common ground is preferable to the temptation or sudden impulse to invite a neighbour in to have a drink or become better acquainted.

Over the years the occupations of people who owned the houses on my adopted street have changed dramatically. Long gone are the factory workers. Current inhabitants are an eclectic mix of professional, business, and trades people with young families, and retirees with comfortable incomes who are attracted to this quiet, safe neighbourhood. The householders are polite, reserved, and take special care of their homes and properties. As neighbours they are a responsible, trustworthy group of people who will lend a hand when necessary. But most of them are not friends with each other because they choose not to make friends with their neighbours. Their friends are spread elsewhere in town or farther afield.

It is not at all surprising that neighbours do not often become friends. Making friends is much more complex process than most people think. For example people have to cross paths frequently. They have to have something in common before they feel comfortable with forming common bonds, sharing personal intimate details, and building acceptance, loyalty and trust. Not so well known is the research evidence that concludes, “You choose friends because of not who they are, but because they support who we are.”

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Dr. James F. McDonald is a retired elementary school principal who lives in Dundas, ON.
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